The Legislature is pau, but the talk is of a special session to take care of unfinished business.

4:52 p.m. GOP Convention on Kauai

There will be no Capitol Watch tomorrow — not because it’s Friday the 13th, but because I am off to Kauai to report on Neil Abercrombie‘s speech to the Kauai Chamber of Commerce on Friday (the governor is also giving the commencement at Kauai Community College) and to attend the Hawaii Republican Party‘s state convention over the weekend.

Word is that Jonah Kaauwai will be reappointed chair. Linda Lingle, Duke Aiona and Charles Djou are among the leaders scheduled to speak.

Who will Republicans field for the U.S. Congress?

3:52 p.m. Enter the Sandman (in Waikiki)

Neil Abercrombie this afternoon shared a history lesson about Waikiki with reporters as he announced a public-private partnership to spend $2.4 million to replenish sand later this year.

“Local people wanted to come down for all the music that was down here. We’d come down to hear Rene Paulo at 2:30, 3 in the morning,” Abercrombie said. “We’d be down here literally all night — it was an all-night activity and we enjoyed ourselves and it was enjoyable to be down here and we want to re-create that.”

The announcement — about the sand — at the Royal Hawaiian came from Abercrombie,William Aila Jr., Ernest Nishizaki and Michael McCartney.

The work — pumping 24,000 cubic yards of sand from about 2,000 feet offshore — will start in December 2011 or January 2012 and take about 60 days to complete, officials said. The project will widen the beach from the Duke statue to the Sheraton by about 37 feet.

Michael Levine

1:43 p.m. Hirono Objects to Off-shore Drilling

Mazie Hirono has objected to a U.S. House bill that would reverse President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act.

Hirono spoke yesterday, saying in part:

Once again, the House will vote on Republican legislation that takes a “put all of our eggs in one basket” approach to our national energy policy. How do they propose to solve our energy crisis? Drill for more oil offshore.

This bill is the latest ploy by the Republican majority to defend subsidies that the oil companies are getting on the taxpayers’ dime. This comes at a time when the largest oil companies are making record profits, while consumers are pinching pennies to pay record prices at the pump. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, the five largest oil companies earned more than $35 billion in profits!

11:49 a.m. Inouye Signs On to Mortgage Servicers Bill

Dan Inouye is a co-sponsor of the Regulation of Mortgage Servicing Act, which is intended to help homeowners stay in their homes by making the rules for mortgage servicers “more fair and transparent,” according to a press release:

The bill would require banks and other mortgage servicers to create a single point of contact for borrowers, end the dual track process of foreclosing homes while homeowners are negotiating a modification, and provide an independent, third-party review before sending a family to foreclosure.

“Every day Oregonians call my office with horror stories of applying for mortgage modifications,” Jeff Merkley, one of the bill’s authors, said in a statement. “Families are rejected for modification because their payments aren’t current after being told to stop making their payments so they will qualify. Families have to tell their stories again and again to different people at the servicing company. Families get foreclosed upon while they are still negotiating a loan modification. This legislation will put these bad practices to an end.”

Reform of the mortgage foreclosure process is the aim of a Hawaii bill that was signed into law earlier this month.

9:40 a.m. Neighbor Island News

The Maui News reports that Rep. Mele Carroll has been fined $2,608 by the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission for the late filing of her 2010 election finance reports:

Gary Kam, general counsel for the Campaign Spending Commission, said Carroll’s fine wasn’t unusually large but was substantial.

“It’s up there,” he said.

Carroll has not yet paid the fine, he said.

She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

West Hawaii Today reports that the Hawaii County Board of Ethics yesterday cleared South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford of charges brought against her by a county fire commissioner:

Ford had been accused of violating the fair treatment section of the county’s ethics code, which requires county employees to treat everyone in a “courteous, fair and impartial manner,” during the Nov. 4 confirmation hearing of James “Kimo” Lee, development director for W.H. Shipman.

Ford, through attorney Michael Matsukawa, contended she was exercising due diligence as a County Council member to thoroughly vet nominees forwarded to the council by the mayor. She also, said Matsukawa, as a public official, enjoyed First Amendment-protected speech rights when she made comments about Lee’s qualifications for the commission.

Lee, however, said he was “humiliated” when Ford singled him out during the confirmation hearing of a slate of five commission nominees.

The Garden Island reports that the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative on Tuesday certified a petition calling for a member meeting and vote on a board-approved agreement with hydroelectric developer Free Flow Power — an “unprecedented” move, the paper says:

“We submitted somewhere between 300 and 350 member signatures,” said petitioner Adam Asquith. “People are really motivated about the issues. Initially, there were 10 people who hustled up 20 signatures each. Then when the article came out in the paper, the signatures flooded in. It shows that KIUC members want and need to be involved.”

KIUC’s legal counsel David Proudfoot said the co-op has 30 calendar days to hold the member meeting. There is no required timeline for the vote within KIUC’s bylaws.

Say, Ige on PBS ‘Insights’

Dan Boylan will feature Calvin Say and David Ige tonight in “Insights” along with Gil Riviere and Richard Borreca.

The topic? “Legislative Wrap Up.”

Inouye Warns About China

A blog called The Diplomat reports on what Dan Inouye had to say recently at the Naval War College in Rhode Island.

Excerpt:

Inouye struck a bleak chord upon turning to US-China relations and, in particular, to Beijing’s industrious quest for sea power. Over the past two years, he maintained, China has made a ‘very dangerous practice’ of probing US relations with other Asian powers for weakness. Last year’s angry encounters over the Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands, the Spratly Islands, and the Yellow Sea bespeak a concerted effort to test American and allied resolve.

And this too:

While Inouye implored Washington to keep up diplomatic ties with Beijing, along with military-to-military contacts, he also prophesied that Asia and the United States are entering the ‘most challenging and potentially dangerous period’ in recent memory. While the senator pronounced the thought of another Pacific war dismaying, he also reported concluding ‘over long years’ of life as a military man and officeholder that ‘war is nearly inevitable.’ Such sentiments are sobering coming from the chairman of the Senate Defence Appropriations Subcommittee, but at the same time, public officials seldom speak with such brisk candour.  

Gov Reacts to Latest Tax Revenues

Regarding the Tax Department’s release late yesterday on state general fund tax revenues for April totaling $490 million — an increase of $134 million over March — Neil Abercrombie released the following statement:

“The April 2011 revenue numbers are promising and are, in part, a result of better business accounting procedures instituted by the Tax Department. Under the leadership of Director Fred Pablo, the Tax Department has been identifying improvements and changing old policies and practices to get government working again.”

Ten months into the fiscal year, however, general fund deposits are down 2.3 percent as compared with the previous 10-month period. The tax department said this was due to the release of accrued income tax refunds totaling $187 million.

For the year to date, GET collections increased by 6.5 percent over the previous period.

Where’s Neil?

Here’s Neil:

• Dedication Ceremony, Ewa Makai Middle School, 91-6291 Kapolei Parkway, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

• Press Conference with William Aila, Mike McCartney and Ernest Nishisaki, Royal Hawaiian Hotel Ocean Lawn, Waikiki, 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

• 1st Annual Pacific Edge Magazine Business Achievement Awards Gala. Aloha Tower Marketplace, downtown, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
       


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